HC421H - Thinking Like the Sun: Stellar Knowledge of the Woods, Seeds, Swamps, and Infinity of You

Professor: Barbara Mossberg

4.00 credits

  • CRN 22412: Monday & Wednesday, 4:00-5:50pm @ CHA 301

“Dear Dr. B: Thank you for writing me about your class for the Clark Honors College, “Thinking Like the Sun.” Indeed, this is a question that enabled me to come up with my theories of relativity, what you call “equation elation.” I humbly admire poets and wish I were one. I wistfully imagined that my e=mc2 was a poem. I myself became a metaphor, journeying on a sunbeam, thinking like the sun. I am honored to join your Thought Group,” and your remarkable students. Yours ever, Albert E.”

“Dear Professor Mossberg, Having done seven missions to space as an astronaut transformed by my journey into a Poet, I am delighted to join your seekers of the Sun. Sincerely, Story Musgrave.”

What does it mean to think like the sun? an ultimate Other? Welcome to my world of questions that take us down the Rabbit Hole. I am a poet physics groupie, teaching Emerson and Einstein, Revolutionary Imagination, and Eco literature for all majors, incorporating chaos theory and sonnets, prone to assign The Odyssey, Dante, Alice in Wonderland, and Einstein, no matter what the topic. I am excited to provide students an opportunity for extra-boundary learning. We are going to enlist Others such as Einstein and Story Musgrave as our Lights to entangle with our class, to join us as we explore “thinking like the sun.” Yes, I’m aware Einstein is no longer “with us,” but in profound ways, he is, and we can invoke him and others whose lives and writings impact our understanding of our world, those living near and far, “departed” and “here,” imagined, and real (and to the brain, what is imagined is real): all are welcome in our Solar Lab. We are even going to rely on each other and ourselves for vital knowledge of how the world works and what we can do to promote the health and welfare of the world as we know it—what can come from “thinking like the sun.”

Thinking Like the Sun is one way that we can think creatively and use our imaginations and knowledge to solve our own and the world’s most perplexing problems. We can learn from an ultimate “other” like the sun, and other fractals of our known universe. We invite Thought Leaders and Other’s Thinking to our Solar Lab. We do independent research on such thinking based on our own fields and interests, and collaborate with each other to consolidate our inventive research findings for a human consensus on this riddle of engaging with ultimate Other: an entity that gives life, but is not “alive,” that is thought about, but does not think, that we share a common fate with to go extinct. Yet, we ponder what this entity would think about if it could think. And towards what end? Here we get philosophical (humanities majors sit up)-- and practical (STEMs and the professions sigh relief). Our class is a project-based, problem-centered, Thought Experiment, especially in how we conceive and engage with Others in the natural or social environment. Einstein’s “thought experiments” had him riding a sunbeam in his mind; our own exploration about how the sun thinks is an exercise in engaging with mysterious Others in our world. Our course design provides us with new ways of thinking and problem-solving in the context of minds across human history.

This is essentially a workshop of time and space for the understanding of relationships governing our world. The ideas of connectivity and inclusion that are the heart of natural laws, whether expressed as metaphors in the humanities, equations in mathematics, or deep structure in geology or linguistics, are explored in our class across disciplines and species. We are expressing the human capacity to relate with knowledge and imaginations to Others, and wondering—another fundamental human capacity—what existence is like from other points of view. With greater and more comprehensive perspectives of diverse entities, we can look at ourselves and our problems, big or little, that ultimately involve Others, our galactic world as we know it, with more empathy: forgiveness, love, and appreciation, and most of all, greater understanding of the reality of our common need for one another in an interdependent world.